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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Finding A Lost City

Finding A Lost City

 

LIDAR mapping technology (credit: UC-Berkeley)

 

Finding an ancient building is one thing but discovering an entire lost city in the 21st Century is quite another. However, that is what was been accomplished with LIDAR technology. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) located a major Mayan city considered more of a rumor for the past 500 years. The city was mapped in a remote and uninhabited corner of Central America by using this novel scanning technology.

The electronic sensing system, the size of a cardboard shipping box, can peer through vegetation and water allowing images to be generated that exposes the geology and physical structures that lie beneath. The scanners digitize radar data recombined the image into 'layers' that show details of the uncovered landscapes in high relief. The methodology, pioneered by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory among others, has is now used widely for natural resource and geoscience mapping. The technology is now upending traditional methods of archaeological surveys.

Using a low-flying airplane outfitted with a LiDAR scanner, researchers flew over a series of untouched mountain valleys where they discovered an ancient city buried under the dense tropical forest canopy. Their discovery is part Indiana Jones but adapted with 21st Century digital media now.

The long-rumored, City of the Monkey God (la Ciudad Blanca) was in northern Honduras. The first ground surveys of the legendary citadel, which appears to have lain untouched since its inhabitants vanished in the 1500's, was covered in an article and video in the New Yorker Magazine. The catastrophic truth on what happened to the city's inhabitants is as fascinating, and disturbing, as the discovery of the actual city. WHB

 

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